Kareem Hunt, star running back for the Kansas City Chiefs, has been cut from the team and suspended by the league after video surfaced of him "brutalizing" a woman. At least, "brutalizing" is the word that media has used. Actual footage of the altercation doesn't seem to support that characterization.
The video shows Hunt and a few guys having an argument with a group of women in the hallway of a Cleveland hotel. There is no audio to go along with the visual, but you can tell that Hunt and the alleged victim are angry at each other. You can also tell that most of the people involved in the dispute are drunk. Hunt's friends claim that the woman hurled a racial slur after being kicked out of Hunt's room when he discovered that they they were 19-years-old, rather than 21. The women say they were kicked out because they refused the sexual advances of one of the men present. I'm not sure I believe either version of the story, but it doesn't matter.
As Hunt is being restrained by another man, a woman is seen approaching Hunt and saying something to him. Hunt shoves the woman. The woman smacks him in the face. Things devolve from there. Hunt gets angrier and angrier as the woman keeps coming back to yell at him. Eventually the woman ends up on the ground after being accidentally knocked over by a different man. As she is still crouching on the floor, Hunt kicks her. It does not appear to be a very hard kick, but it was a kick nonetheless.
Hunt behaved wrongly and stupidly. He could have walked away at any time. The kick at the end was egregious. He also apparently lied to his employer about the incident, so he deserved to be fired for that reason alone. But the woman is no innocent flower. She appears to repeatedly escalate the confrontation. She kept coming back when she could have left. She smacked Hunt in the face. She is a participant in this drunken dispute, not a victim of it.
Now, I personally hold Hunt more culpable, and I find his actions more reprehensible, because he is a man and she is a woman. Barring cases of legitimate self-defense (I don't think this qualified), I ascribe to the general philosophy that a man shouldn't hit a woman. It's not a big deal when men get into shoving matches with each other, but they shouldn't act that way toward women. Men should treat women differently because women are different. The whole point of chivalry is that a man ought to recognize his physical advantages and use those advantages to serve and protect the members of the fairer sex, not dominate or intimidate them. Hunt's behavior toward the woman might not seem all that awful if we view the two of them simply as human beings having a dispute. But if we view them as man and woman, and expect, based on the principles of chivalry, that a man will treat a woman like a woman and not like a man, then Hunt's behavior can be especially condemned.
The problem is that all of the enlightened, egalitarian, progressive people in our culture do view, or pretend to view, a man and a woman simply as two human beings. They do not acknowledge any differences between men and women. They do not want men to treat women like women. They want men to treat women like they would each other. They want total equality — that is, sameness — between the sexes. Yet these same folks will still react with special horror at men like Kareem Hunt. They see a video of two drunken, belligerent idiots engaging in mutually violent behavior and place all of the blame on the man. This seems inconsistent.
Consider it this way: Take that video footage, keep everything exactly the same, but change the woman to a man. You can even change her to a man of the exact same size and physical stature. Let's say that it was a scrawny little white dude shouting at Kareem Hunt, smacking him in the face, and then finding himself knocked on the ground and kicked. Would anyone care? Would anyone be able to muster even the slightest bit of outrage? Would feminists call for Hunt's head on a platter? No, of course not.
Hunt's sin isn't that he battered a woman. His sin is that he treated a woman exactly as he would have treated a man. Those who insist on the absolute equality of the genders ought not blame him for this. Indeed, if they were being really consistent, they may even commend him. Only those of us who recognize the inequality of the sexes, and who unapologetically profess old fashioned ideals like chivalry, reserve the right to condemn Kareem Hunt's behavior. But if you are a progressive or a feminist, you really have no basis to criticize. Hunt treated that woman like a dude. That's what you want, isn't it?